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How becoming a freelancer helped build my self-worth

Over the course of the last five years, my life has been nothing short of an adventure. I’ve worked in journalism and consultancy, traveled across Southeast Asia and Europe, picked up a Master’s degree, spoken at international conferences, worked as a researcher for a best selling book and landed an international job.

Every time I’ve undertaken a new project, it has filled me with a sense of adrenaline and renewed ambition.

However, the past years, along with being exhilarating, have also come with their share of emotional fatigue. The unceasing hustle transformed my life into a roller coaster of rewarding highs and lows of immense self-doubt.

This year, after months of juggling with these emotions, I arrived at a grinding realization that I could not continue living like this.

My mind and body sent me signals indicating that I needed to recalibrate my energies towards my inner myself. They urged me to start afresh a journey towards fulfillment and self-discovery.

In these moments of truth, I decided to resign from my job and work as a freelance writer.

More two months have passed since that decision and I am appreciating each day of this journey. The path has not been easy, with some difficult days of self-doubt and apprehension creeping in. But overall, I feel a sense of cloud lifting off my mind, where I’m able to recognize myself in a clearer light.

As a writer, I have devoted my time towards causes that I am personally invested in, collaborated with inspiring people, picked up exciting projects, read more and, in a way, rediscovered myself.

Over the course, I have started curating an Instagram channel: the_freelancer_project, focusing on this journey. A page that highlights a freelancer’s life and finds ways to manage the expectations of a competitive world.

While the freelancer journey has taught me immensely valuable lessons, the most important of them all has been building self-worth.

The world around us behaves in a manner that demands credibility by association. Whether it is by being placed at a well-known law firm or getting an Ivy League degree, we as humans attach our worth through objects and relationships.

Additionally, women have to strive harder to prove that they are worth those associations.

However, in this race to achieve the best affiliations in terms of academic, professional and civic lives, the room for self-worth has massively diminished.

It has been severed to a point that we focus more on representing ourselves through Snapchat filters than making time for real introspection.

The last two months as a freelancer have helped me recognize that charade. I deeply value all my associations because of the hard work that went into reaching them, but I am also learning to find an identity despite them.

Being a freelancer straps you of all such associations, as you represent yourself. Your business card is not embossed by a company’s logo, you do not own a corporate credit card.

You are recognized through your work, not by the company or university you are from.

You become your own brand. And self-worth is all about that. To be you.

To know yourself so well, that you no longer feed your insecurities. That version of yourself is what can fuel your true potential.

It can hone your vision and drive you into directions that bring fulfillment and accomplishment.

I am gradually learning to move into that direction, and freelancing helps me do that. I invest my time and spirits into concerns that move me, and hope to plunge deeper into creating an impact on a wider community.

While this is just the beginning of my freelance career, I hope to unlearn self-doubt, nurture self-worth and enable others to do so as well.

By Mariyam Raza Haider

Mariyam is a freelance researcher and journalist, with a focus on mental health, feminism, and humanitarian politics. She reviews second-hand books, does poetry, and runs an Instagram page @the_freelancer_project. Mariyam is a journalist by training and a public policy graduate from the National University of Singapore.